|Las Fallas Festival Flag Bearer|
Valencia is a city that knows how to party - it is certainly not short of festivals. Throughout the year celebrations take place in honour of saints or local traditions - each with its own distinct feel. Without question, Valencia's largest celebration is Las Fallas. It is an internationally renowned fiesta that sees people come from all over the world to witness the spectacle. This page will provide you with details of the festival: background to where the traditions began, advice on what to expect at the fiesta and explanations of what happens on specific days of the festival.
There is also a link to a page with listings and descriptions of public holidays that are specific to Valencia, plus short descriptions of some of Valencia's other main events.
Las Fallas is Valencia's biggest fiesta. It lasts for a whole week and is based around the idea of building and then burning down Ninots (see below for more details). The festival truly has to be seen to be believed, with large, colourful and skilfully produced monuments taking over the whole city. Here we will give some background to Las Fallas festival, followed by information about what you can expect to see during Las Fallas and what special events happen on each day.
|Caricatures during the Las Fallas Festival|
|Birght coloured figures during the parade|
|Caricatures during the Las Fallas Festival|
The tradition of Las Fallas started when, in the olden days, during Spring evenings, it was no longer necessary to work during the hours of darkness. When this happened, the parrot - a traditional lamp that was used to light up workshops during the winter, was burnt at the door of every workshop. The craftsmen gathered together shavings of wood which they used to feed the fire. People from the neighbourhood would bring old furniture and bric-a-brac that they no longer wanted and add it to the fire to keep it going.
As people became more creative, the parrot was given arms and legs to make it look like a human form. People began dressing it and giving it hats and other adornments. And so a figure known as the Ninot (meaning a doll-like effigy) was born. Each year the effigies became more creative, and they began to take on the form of farcical figures based on whatever news was hot in the neighbourhood at that time.
To this day that tradition is kept alive. In modern times the Ninots could be of anything from fairy-tale characters to Barack Obama.
|Fire crackers to be set off at the end of the festival|
The whole programme of festivities during Las Fallas is centred around the city's competition to build the best Ninots. At the end of the week, a Ninot Indultat is chosen - this is the winning effigy and is the only one not to be burned. This is an acknowledgement by the people of Valencia that Ninots can serve as works of art and deserve not to be burned. If you would like to see the wining Ninots from over the years, they are on display at the Fallero Museum in Valencia.
Gunpowder plays an important part in proceedings at the festival. Throughout the festival 'falleros' set off rockets and firecrackers to wake up each neighbourhood. If you are coming to the festival, you can expect some truly spectacular fireworks displays and fires.
It is worth noting that fire regulations in Spain may not be quite as tight as in other countries. This being said, throughout the festival, you will see firemen working tirelessly to keep control of the fires and clean up the debris that they leave behind. Just remember that if you are easily frightened, you might be quite overwhelmed by the noise of the firecrackers and the close proximity of the fire.
This is the 'planta de la falla'. The opening of the festival. During this time, you will see each community getting ready and preparing their Ninots (Giant statues). The word "ninot" means puppet in Valencian.
Ofrenda Procession: 17 March - 18 March
Each community chooses their 'Fallera Mayor' (Fallas Queen) and Fallera Mayor Infantil (children's Fallas Queen). Each community's committee for Las Fallas gathers in Plaza del Ayuntamiento at the heart of the old town and prizes are awarded. Judges will award prizes for various Ninots throughout the festival.
On this day there is also a procession known as the 'Ofrenda'. This is a procession made up of the communities who are involved in Las Fallas, through their neighbourhoods to Plaza de la Virgen. They come to make an offering of flowers to Valencia's patron saint, Our Lady of the Forsaken. As people arrive with their flowers, they are all added to a large wooden statue of the Madonna and child, and the statue comes alive with colour. The event starts at 16:00 and lasts until dark.
La Crema (Burning Ceremony)
Once people in the neighbourhoods have watched their own Ninots burn down, it is time to head to Plaza del Ayuntamiento to watch the burning of the city council's monument. It is burnt at 01:00 in the morning. This moment symbolises the coming of Spring.
|Our Lady of the Forsaken decorated with bright red and white flowers|
For a full programme of events during Las Fallas festival, it is best to check the Official Las Fallas Website.
During Las Fallas Valencia will be jam-packed with visitors from all over the world. Therefore, if you plan on coming to town over this period you will need to be willing to pay inflated prices for accommodation. Also, make sure that you book as far in advance as possible as hotels and apartments will fill up quickly. For information on accommodation options, see our Places to Stay in Valencia page.
Some of Valencia's other big main events include the following:
- Feria de Julio (the July Fair): a months worth of bullfights, firework displays, concerts and shows. There is also the famous battle of the flowers (see the link below for more details).
- Maritime Holy Week: a celebration in the Maritime quarters for Easter week involving processions and bell-ringing (see the link below for more details).
- Our Lady of the Forsaken: there is a concert on the eve of this festival and a firework display in the Turia Riverbed in Valencia. On the day of the festival there are religious processions (see the link below for more details).
For a full guide to the main public holidays in Valencia, with the dates and descriptions of what happens on each day, see our Guide to Valencia public holidays page.
Valencia is a city with a strong sense of tradition and lots of festivities to prove it. If you have not yet booked your trip to Valencia, it is well worth considering booking the trip to coincide with one of Valencia's festivals. These are times when the city really comes alive and you can see Valencia and its people at their best.